Lewin’s Change Model in a Manufacturing Industry

Lewin’s Three Step Model

Review of the Existing Research Findings in This Domain

Lewin’s 3 Step Model to Counter Resistance to Change

Application of Lewin’s Change Model in a Manufacturing Industry

The Change Process Implementation Using Lewin’s 3 Stage Model

The process of change in any organization involves the process that enables a company to take control over the implementation of improvement mechanisms. Such improvement and change entails the transition of individuals, teams and organizations from a present state of existence within the organization to a predefined and desired condition for the future. This change thus involves change in roles and responsibilities of employees of the organization. However people tend to oppose any change in an existing system. This means that employees of an organization would want the present state of affairs to continue. This opposition to change stems primarily from the fear of losses due to a proposed change and the shifting of the balance of state that are associated with negative changes for the employees. therefore any attempts to bring in change within an organization is often met with resistance against the change from the employees (Pugh and Mayle, 2009).

Research Questions

1) How does Lewin’s three step model address the inherent resistance to change found within an organization?

2) How can I/O psychologists apply Lewin’s model to introduce change within a manufacturing, service, or retail organization?

Review of the Existing Research Findings in This Domain

Lewin’s 3 Step Model to Counter Resistance to Change

Lwein’s 3 Step model:

Companies and organizations use several established approaches and models for organizational change (Valle Santos & Teresa Garcia, 2006). The Lewin, s model is one of the older models that comprises of three stages of change and the model assumes that most people prefer to remain and work in the old system of functioning. It is also assumed that such change attempts would be met with resistance from such sections of stakeholders (Lewis, 2011).

This model recognizes three stages of change after assuming that most people prefer to remain and work in the old system and are generally reluctant to change; the three stages are:

Unfreeze: A period of thawing or unfreezing is necessary in a change process for those people who make an effort to resist change. The change process is often resisted by those people who are against change and this step in the change process is the period that essentially thaws or unfreezes a situation. This means that the change managers slowly but surely instills a sense of change in the organization (Green, 2007).

At this stage organizations need to develop compelling and convincing messages for the employees that explain why the existing way of doing things cannot continue and the reasons and importance of change. Driving home the importance of change can be made through the communication of vital company information like declining sales figures, poor financial results, worrying customer satisfaction surveys and other information that indicate that a change is absolutely necessary in for the betterment of the company and the employees.

The attempt at unfreezing of employees should begin with addressing the core issues of the organization like the beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors that define the company’s functioning at present. This is often the most difficult and the most stressful of the change process. Everyone and everything off balance when there is talk about transition and change in the way things are done at the present moment (Lewis, 2011). The unfreezing process essentially creates a controlled crisis within the organization that begins with the re-examine the core values and hence motivate the employees to look out for an out a new and perhaps better equilibrium.

Transition: After the thawing process, a company goes through a transition time where resources need to be used to reassure employees (Gill, 2002). This process is a relatively long one and often takes time and does not happen overnight: this is the actual process of change when new strategies and policies are implemented. The employees generally take time to adjust to and accept the new direction and until they proactively and voluntarily participate in the change. During this process focus should be placed both the organizational transition as well as the personal transformation of the employees in the changing environment.

This is also the process where employees understand their new roles and responsibilities and by accepting the transition, the employees make the change successful. Efforts should also be made to adequately communicate the concerns and compensate the people who genuinely get harmed by the transition or change process. Organizations need to invest both time and communication at this stage for the changes to occur. This gives the employees enough time to feel connected the change and understand the benefits of the change for themselves as well as for the company.

Refreeze: Due to the preceding two stages and after the successful implementation of change, the employees accept the change and work under the change conditions and the company becomes stable again (Lewis, 2011). At this stage, the employees would have accepted the change and understood the benefits and necessity for the change. They would have, by this stage, embraced the new ways of working and now the organization is said to be ready to refreeze. Stable organization chart and a consistent job description are some of the indicators of a refreezing process. The changes that were made and implemented in the earlier stage are essentially internalized or institutionalized in the organization.

The refreeze stage also needs to help people and the organization internalize or institutionalize the changes. This means making sure that the changes are used all the time; and that they are incorporated into everyday business. With a new sense of stability, employees feel confident and comfortable with the new system of functioning.

Despite the fact the with the changing business environment, change is a constant process in organizations, there is necessity for establishing some sort of stability in the organization. This stability is ensured by the refreezing process. Without an adequate refreezing process, there would be confusion among the employees as they get caught in a transition trap and they would not know how things should be done. This would affect efficiency and productivity. A successful change process creates a corporate culture where employees become more adept at accepting future changes in the organization.

Application of Lewin’s Change Model in a Manufacturing Industry

There are several steps that are involved in the process of implementation of change in an organization which have to be implemented and undertaken in a phased and strategic manner. The general steps for change in an organization should include the formation of the concept development for change initiatives, creation of a strategy for seamless implementation of initiatives, generation of organizational buy-in and the creation of a repeatable and sustainable model.

The manufacturing sector is one of the most technical and employee driven sectors of business. In this sector employees play a very important role in the success of the organization. However this is also the sector that sees many changes, especially where technological developments are concerned. This sector is also closely linked to the general economical conditions and while the manufacturing sector is one of the main drivers of economy, this is also the segment hat gets affected directly and has a very large impact from changes in economic conditions and other business environment factors. Therefore companies in the manufacturing sector are also regularly open to changes. Since in general, the manufacturing organizations are large implementation of organizational change is also difficult.

In this section we would discuss the organizational change process and its implementation in a global car manufacturing company.

It is assumed that a leading manufacturer would have high quality and efficiency standards into every aspect of their operations as the core competency behind the success of the company. However changing global economic scenarios and emergence of rival companies and changing tastes of customers coupled with technological development necessitates implementation of organizational change. This change is necessary for car manufacturing companies to remain sustainable and competitive in the market.

The Change Process Implementation Using Lewin’s 3 Stage Model

Auto manufacturers need to deliver new product and features in the market and with speed to ensure success. Many companies manage to develop new car models with a matter of a few months as required. The companies also need to be cost effective in order to increase sustainability, especially those who manufacture luxury vehicles.

One of the changes that auto manufacturers need to make is therefore installation of a process of continuous improvement and quality improvement to remain competitive in the market and function in a sustainable manner (‘TIME TO CHANGE, TIME FOR CHANGE: HOW WAS TIME USED TO CHANGE A GLOBAL COMPANY?’, 2005).

To implement a process of continuous improvement and quality improvement, auto companies need to make organizational change. This process is complex for large global auto manufacturing companies. To implement the above mentioned change companies need to implement a complete overhaul of the organization which is a major change in any organization.

In many cases, such change process could involve the renaming of the Business Development Units and change of work profile for various units, reconstitution of various departments like amalgamation of departments to increase cost efficiency and instill greater control and change in the advertising and media campaigns with changing roles and responsibilities for employees. Such change could also mean closure of loss making units in which case jobs of some employees would be lost.

In a global auto manufacturing company, it is necessary that the employees be made aware of the need for change. A comprehensive communication plan for the employees needs to be formulated and especially those who would be severely affected by the change or those who might stand to lose their jobs due to the change. This is the unfreezing stage in the organization according to Lewin’s model of change. Here the auto manufacture has to spend time in making employees understand the competitive market and the ways and means that competitive advantage can be achieved through the change and how the change would help growth of the auto company and thus foster career growth of the employees as well. In case of closure of units for cost effectiveness, adequate compensation packages need to be given and the issues should be widely communicated within the organization along with an explanation for the need for the closure.

In the second stage the company should implement the changes like merger of departments and change or roles for employees. For example, when the company implements a change to instill continuous improvement, greater quality measurement and assurance process would have to put in place which would require change of role and addition of new roles for employees. The organizational structure would also change to a certain extent. At this stage the actual closure of units that are non-profit making should also be done along with the adequate compensation to the affected employees (‘TIME TO CHANGE, TIME FOR CHANGE: HOW WAS TIME USED TO CHANGE A GLOBAL COMPANY?’, 2005).

The last stage is the refreezing stage where the company gives some time for every employee to adapt to the new roles and responsibilities and continues with further employee interaction and communication to exhibit the good effects of the implemented change until such time that the company feel that the employees have adopted the change process. This is the refreezing process of Lewin’s 3 step change model (Shibata & Kodama, 2015).


1) Companies need to first assess the need for change based on several factors of the business environment like competitiveness, technological change, changing taste of customers and regulatory changes among other things

2) Organizations must identify the most important stakeholders in the change process and identify the issues that can lead to a resistance of to change.

3) Strategies need ot be drawn up to focus on how the resistance to change can be addressed and how the concerned stakeholders, primarily the employees, can be convinced to participate in the change.

4) The actual change process should be meticulously drawn out and implemented as soon as the company feels that stake holders are ready to accept the change

5) Allow the employees and other stakeholders some time to adjust to the change and the new roles and responsibilities

6) Address any misunderstandings and conflicts among the employees to effectively seal the change in the organization.


Burke, W. Organization change.

Cameron, E., & Green, M. (2004). Making sense of change management. London: Kogan Page.

Demers, C. (2007). Organizational change theories. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.

Green, M. (2007). Change management masterclass. London: Kogan Page.

Lewis, L. (2011). Organizational change. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Murthy, C. (2007). Change management. Mumbai [India]: Himalaya Pub. House Pvt. Ltd.

Pugh, D., & Mayle, D. (2009). Change management. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Senior, B., & Fleming, J. (2006). Organizational change. Harlow, England: Prentice Hall/Financial Times.

Shibata, T., & Kodama, M. (2015). Managing the change of strategy from customisation to product platform: case of Mabuchi Motors, a leading DC motor manufacturer. International Journal Of Technology Management, 67(2/3/4), 289. doi:10.1504/ijtm.2015.068214

TIME TO CHANGE, TIME FOR CHANGE: HOW WAS TIME USED TO CHANGE A GLOBAL COMPANY?. (2005). Academy Of Management Proceedings, 2005(1), F1-F6. doi:10.5465/ambpp.2005.18781806

Valle Santos, M., & Teresa Garcia, M. (2006). Organizational change: The role of managers’ mental models. Journal Of Change Management, 6(3), 305-320. doi:10.1080/14697010600963084

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